I'm sorry to be slow answering your last post - Nancy's giving a couple of lectures this weekend and the time free from work I've had has been used helping get some information together for the talks.
You commented - "Is that why many banders write articles for magazines & websites as well as books?"
It's certainly one reason. There are some banders who work for universities, for instance, for whom banding research is part of their regular job duties and for whom some or all of their expenses are covered. There are banders whose projects are sponsored by particular non-profit organizations (some even started by themselves, to publicize their research and to enable donations). Others, like Nancy, do it as a labor of love and absorb most of the cost themselves. Especially in those cases, writing articles about what we've learned can be a good way to subsidize those costs. Although, as you probably realize, most publishers are in dire straits competing with free information found on the web (often, sadly, more or less stolen from copyrighted information previously published at someone else's cost), and the chances to get published for pay are greatly diminished.
>>Now that I know the banders aren't compensated for their expenses, that leads me to another question ... what would be a courtesy "gift" to a bander who comes to your home?
I almost have a conflict of interest in answering this, as some banding-site homeowners do nice things for both the assistants and the banders, but I'll take a stab at it, should any of the forum's subscribers get this opportunity.
First, it's always thoughtful to have at least some basic refreshments available - coffee and/or juice if it's early morning, cold water and/or soft drinks if it's later in the day. Early morning visits are always enhanced by a simple snack offering - a box of donuts or even a few slices of coffee cake - since we frequently have to leave home before dawn to get to a banding site, particularly in the winter. A few of our sites make a point of asking us to schedule either for early in the morning, or close to noon, because they really enjoy feeding us and I'm not one to argue - being able to eat a quick meal while we watch the traps staves off hunger and keeps us from losing time by stopping for fast food between sites.
Second, although it sounds crass (and I don't know that all banders would accept), donations help. We don't expect anything - we do what we do because we want to do it and we'd do it out of pocket as long as we can - but a few of our more "comfortable" homeowners quietly contribute money to help cover gas and other significant expenses, even though it's not deductible as a charitable contribution for them. (Again: some banders do have means by which you can make such deductible contributions, and it never hurts to ask.) A somewhat less crass version: if you know your bander likes a particular restaurant, or store, or whatever, a gift card or certificate accomplishes a similar goal but is somewhat more personal.
The best gift of all, of course, is cooperation and participation: We have certain homeowners that I know I can call at 7:00 PM and ask if we can come band the next day because a spot opened up on the schedule from a cancellation, and they'll give us carte blanche. Many of them help us unload the gear; some maintain dummy traps around their feeders year-round so the birds are always used to going in/out of enclosures; we even have homeowners who tell us to just come whenever it's good for us and let us know where a spare key is in case we need a bathroom. That kind of help means as much, or more, as any token gift and makes it possible for us to get more done than we could otherwise manage.